Antifreeze Vs. Coolant: Are These Same Or Different?
Confusion is rife when it comes to these two terms; antifreeze and coolant. The majority of motorcycle owners, including beginners and experienced riders, are always in the dark on whether the two terms refer to the same or different things.
The truth, however, is, antifreeze and coolant aren’t much different. A coolant refers to an antifreeze that has water added into it. The antifreeze on its own prevents your motorcycle engine from freezing during cold season. When you add water to it, it becomes a coolant that controls the engine temperature in all seasons.
To get an even better understand of antifreeze and coolant, read our quick guide below.
What is an Antifreeze?
Simply put, an antifreeze refers to the principal component found in motorcycle coolants—the ethyl glycol. This substance neither freezes (hence the name antifreeze) nor boils easily.
The antifreeze is usually bought in a pre-mixed form or separately.
When you but it separately, it’s safe to say you have antifreeze and NOT a coolant. And when you buy a pre-mixed formula, then you have a motorcycle coolant that has antifreeze properties inside it. Got it?
Turning an antifreeze into a coolant
It’s important to keep in mind that using the antifreeze alone in your motorcycle cooling system will not help regulate the engine temperature. In other words, your engine might end up reaching unsafe temperatures, overheating, and failing catastrophically.
For this reason, it’s always important to mix the antifreeze (if not pre-mixed) with water to turn it into a coolant. The coolant not only helps regulate the engine temperature but also keeps the fluid inside it from freezing.
When mixing, you should ONLY use pure or distilled water and not regular tap water. The latter might contain minerals that can damage metallic parts of your cooling system as well as the engine. You also ought to mix the two items in 50:50 ration for you to achieve an effective coolant.
How does a motorcycle coolant work?
Let’s mention it one more time; a coolant equals antifreeze plus water. When you think of an antifreeze in this manner, it becomes easier to understand how it works.
Here’s a brief description of how your motorcycle coolant works:
The ethylene glycol or propylene glycol is the KEY ingredient in a motorcycle coolant. It boasts excellent antifreeze properties, which enables it to keep the radiator fluid from freezing, even in extreme temperature conditions (less than 30 degrees F) below the freezing point of water.
The coolant also raises the boiling point of the radiator fluid. This helps the fluid from boiling to temperatures as high as 275 degrees, far above the boiling point of water.
This way, you can rest assured that the radiator fluid circulating through your bike engine will continue operating well regardless of what season or weather conditions you cruise your bike in.
The antifreeze also prevents rust and corrosion of your motorcycle parts. A Good quality motorcycle coolant comes formulated with a corrosion inhibitor whose work is to prevent corrosion and rust of parts of your cooling system and engine due to the presence of water in the coolant.
IMPORTANT: For your motorcycle engine to enjoy all the above benefits that come with a coolant, you must mix it correctly if it comes separately. Be sure to use pure water and mix the pure water and antifreeze in proportions of 50/50.
How often to change your motorcycle coolant?
The engine coolant tends to deteriorate over time, turning into harmful substances through chemical processes such as acidification and aluminum corrosion. These changes not only make the coolant less effective but also have damaging effects on your bike engine—thus, you need to change your motorcycle engine coolant regularly.
But how often should you do it?
Experts recommend you to change your motorcycle coolant after every 2 years, even if you haven’t covered a significant number of miles.
Flushing the old coolant isn’t a hard task. Even as a new motorcycle with some basic mechanical skills, you can easily replace the old coolant with new in your garage.
Where to buy motorcycle coolant?
Now that you know what a motorcycle coolant is, you might be wondering where you can get the right one for your bike.
Lucky for you, this product is readily available at your local motorcycle store shop, in various big box stores, and even dealership parts departments.
To ensure you get the best motorcycle coolant for your bike, you need to look for products that are specially formulated for a motorcycle engine. Otherwise, you might get a coolant with the wrong ingredients that end up wreaking havoc on the engine and bike’s overall performance.
Motorcycle riders, of late, have shown a growing trend of buying their coolant from online stores like Amazon. This is because such platforms give you a wide range of products to choose from. They also feature a reviews section, where you can get first-hand information from previous users of a product on its suitability and reliability. This helps you make a more informed buying decision.
Regardless of where you choose to purchase your coolant, make sure you invest in a quality product with long service life, excellent antifreeze and corrosion protection, and high boiling point. Above also, ensure the coolant you get is formulated for motorcycle engines.
An antifreeze becomes a coolant when you mix it with water in the ratio 50:50. On its own, an antifreeze will only protect your motorcycle engine from freezing in the cold winter months. But mixing it with water turns it into a coolant that helps maintain the operating temperatures of your bike engine for optimal performance.
Since its meant for mixing with water, the antifreeze also features an anti-corrosion agent that helps keep the metallic parts of your cooling system and the engine from rusting or getting corroded due to the presence of water.